A bazaar crowded with random offerings. William Gibson/Henrik Ibsen. Zafon, Murakami, Van Gogh. A table of well-thumbed Louisa May Alcott. Shiny Urban Fantasy and an aromatic clutter of cookbooks.
I don't set annual challenges because, for as far back as I can remember, I've always tried to read 52 books a year. Some years I read more. Since I try and balance my reading, a year with a really big number doesn't necessarily make me happy—I end up with a higher tally if I'm reading a lot of ripping yarns. With long subway rides being my most productive reading time, how much I read in a given year also depends on my commute.
My biggest issue isn't how much I read, but what I read. As I said, I try and balance my reading. However, when I reach for a new book, it can be far too tempting to let my mood sway my better intentions. Some of the books I've been meaning to read for years still linger wistfully at the bottom of the pile (I'm talking to you, Naked Lunch), while I breeze through stacks of shiny new fun toys.
The other day, I read about something on BookRiot that sounds just perfect for me. Maybe you already knew about this. The original source for Rachel, the BookRioter, was an alexinleeds post from last March.
(image from alexinleeds.com)
The idea is to write down your "to read" book titles on little slips of paper, fold the scraps and tuck them into a jar. When you're ready for your next book, pull one from the jar. Brilliant! Gets rid of that "books and books and nothing to read" thing that happens from staring at the Piles or the List and having my eyes glaze over.
By stacking the deck with a combination of the "should reads" and "fun reads," I can even force that balance I keep striving for. My personal riff on this was to use assorted meaningless coloured scraps, just to make the jar look pretty, but to keep potential library books on white paper (easier to manage the uncertainty of loan availability that way).
As soon as I finish the books I've already started, my next selection is coming out of the jar. I am so excited about this!